EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP  review
March 27, 2011 · Print This Article
EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP was the lone remaining film on my list of highly regarded 2010 movies to see. Now may I can finally make a 2010 top 10 list! I only knew the very basic premise of this documentary. I will later read about what this documentary really is, hoax, truth, etc. With just that base knowledge though, I can state it is a very inside look at something few know about but many city dwellers see, that being street art. If you are into feeling like an insider when watching a movie or documentary, then GIFT SHOP will be very satisfying.
A French immigrant to the U.S., Thierry Guetta, starting filming everything in his life and through a cousin got shown the unknown world of street art. The documentary chronicles how Thierry followed these artists mostly in Los Angeles and London revealing to the world the how-to’s of street art, which I found perhaps the most interesting. Through stencils, brooms, glue and climbing skills, you see how these street artists are able to magically make a painting appear over night in a very hard to reach place. The documentary ends up being about how Thierry himself becomes the most commercially successful street artist, and the mixed reaction to that by the street artists Thierry originally filmed.
The most elusive of all street artists, the perfectly self-named, Banksy, ended up taking Thierry’s video footage and being the author of this documentary. In the final third of the documentary when the focus shifts to Thierry’s life as a street artist rather than the lives of Bansky and his ilk, I felt things come to a grinding halt. I like Thierry behind the camera much more than in front of it.
By using Thierry’s footage Banksy did an excellent job building his own aura and legend, but somehow also not seeming egomaniacal as Banksy never shows his face and disguises his voice. To me, he was by far the most powerful street artist producing extremely original work with biting social messages. By the time we see Thierry’s work at the end, it left me with little impact. Banksy seems an original, Thierry seems the product of all those he filmed before.
I think any artist in any medium will find the first two-thirds of this documentary very inspiring, and the final third very cautioning.RELATED POSTS: